(Detail of the Trinity)
By Ventura Salimbeni
Painted at the end of the 16th century
«The painting (above) is by Bonaventura Salimbeni entitled “Glorification of the Eucharist” … Notice the Sputnik satellite device.»
Sometimes called UFO, Satellite or “Sputnik” of Montalcino, many ancient alien believers around the world insist the blueish sphere in this painting is a UFO or even Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth’s orbit.
The sphere between the figures of the Holy Trinity is not a UFO. The object, painted in many Trinity representations of the period, is a symbol of the “Celestial Sphere” – not the Earth, but the universe as a whole – and in this particular painting, contains the illustration of the Sun and the Moon.
The Trinity is represented by Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove. The “wands” being held are not sputnik antennas, as UFO believers insist, these “wands” symbolize the control Jesus and the Father have on the universe, as is represented here on the left, with the Earth at the center of the Universe, being held by God’s hand.
It’s a representation of the Sphaera Mundi – the sphere of the world – in medieval literature. The sphaera mundi is a model of the cosmos that at its most elementary is very simple indeed. At the centre of it is the earth, so small as to be virtually a dot in comparison to the whole or even to the smallest star. Earth is surrounded by the sea, which in turn is surrounded by air, as also air is surrounded by fire. Surrounding the fire is a sphere that ‘bears’ the moon, and around that sphere are others, like layers of an onion, bearing the other planets: Mercury, then Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Then come the sphere bearing the fixed stars and, beyond it, one or more others. All these spheres together constitute the sphere of the world.
The symbols used here are no different than many other paintings during this period depicting the same subject matter.
Here is a small sample of paintings using similar symbols, including the “wands”, to depict the Trinity and the Universe:
Conclusion: The sphere between the figures of the Holy Trinity in the “Esaltation of the Eucaristy” by Salimbeni, is not a UFO. The object, painted in many Trinity representations, is a symbol of the “Celestial Sphere”, and in this particular painting contains the illustration of the Sun and the Moon.
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